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Touching at the return of Kon-Tiki items

Easter Island Moai statues Kon-TikiEaster Island, Moai statues at Rano Raraku Rapa Nui. Photo: easterisland.travel

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Touching moment at the return of Kon-Tiki items

The Norwegian Royal Couple witnessed a colourful ceremony when the agreement on the return of objects stemming from the Kon-Tiki expedition to Easter Island was signed in Chile.


“Today there is every reason to celebrate,” Chile’s Minister of Culture states after the ceremony at the National Library in Santiago on Thursday. The Norwegian King and Queen were honoured with dancing and singing by feather-clad inhabitants from Easter Island.

The cultural heritage that adventurer Thor Heyerdahl took with him from the isolated island community in Polynesia to Norway in the 1950s, will finally be returned to the owners. It was his son, Thor Heyerdahl Jr., who signed the agreement with the Chilean authorities on behalf of the Kon -Tiki Museum. The matter has received a lot of attention in Chile.

As a ten-fold Christmas Eve

The Easter Island Governor, Tarita Alarcon Rapu, is overwhelmed:

“It is the most enormous gift we could have dreamed of in 2019. It’s like ten-fold Christmas Eve for us,” Rapu tells NTB.

The material that is now going back to Easter Island is today located in a warehouse in Oslo, more specifically at the Kon -Tiki Museum. These include 950 hollow stones, 300-400 stone axes and 2,000 – 3,000 other objects, as well as four skulls and several skeletons of persons who lived on Easter Island several hundred years ago.

The latter is especially important for the local population.

“It’s as if all our souls are coming back. The remains of our ancestors will return. They have been important for research, but now they are coming back home,” she explains.

Touching

To show their gratitude, several representatives of the locals danced and sang at the venue on Easter Island where the agreement was signed. The Seance ended with handing over of gifts, in the form of jewellery, figurines and pictures, both to the Royal Couple and Thor Heyerdahl. jr.

The Royal Couple has visited Easter Island before, in 2014, and their thoughts go back to then.

“It was very moving to suddenly be here and relive some of it. Watching them entering dancing, wearing wreaths and everything,” Queen Sonja states.

His Majesty, the King, says that his strongest memory from Easter Island is the stone statues that the island is so famous for.

“The population was very interested in the story itself, and was very grateful for Thor Heyerdahl’s research on the island,” King Harald informs.

Longer dialogue

The King has a special connection to Thor Heyerdahl and the expedition. He was on board the Heyerdahl’s ship before it left Oslo in 1955.

Thor Heyerdahl Jr. emphasises that the plan has always been to return the items. He maintains that his father made this promise already during the expedition in 1955–56.

“The Kon-Tiki Museum has long been in dialogue about the return of the material, but the museum on Easter Island has not wanted it until now,” according to Museum Director Martin Biehl.


© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today
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